People across the islands under the Lakshadweep administration observed a 12-hour hunger strike on Monday. The protests which began at 6 a. m., were held from the confines of the islanders’ homes in observance of COVID-19 protocols as the number of cases continue to rise in the archipelago. Residents held up placards calling for the Centre to immediately recall the islands’ Administrator Praful K. Patel.
The protestors also held placards underwater in the Arabian sea and outside their homes with slogans like “Revoke LDAR” (Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation) and “Justice for Lakshadweep” and posted pictures in social media.
They also demanded the recall of Lakshadweep collector Asker Ali.
While the people staged protests at their homes, panchayat council members from Kavaratti gathered at the panchayat office to register their protest “in a peaceful manner”. However, the police intervened and the protesters were turned away, said a spokesman for the Save Lakshadweep Forum (SLF), which organised the protests.
“This is the first pan-island protest by the people under the Lakshadweep administration, demanding that the government roll back the anti-people policies unveiled by the Administrator,” said a spokesperson for the SLF, which included members across political parties and professions.
“All political parties and organisations are united in their demand that the policies of the Administrator are anti-people and against the actual requirements of the people,” the SLF said.
Meanwhile, the complete lockdown on Kavaratti, Androth, Kalpeni, Amini, Minicoy and Bitra islands has been extended for seven more days from Monday, in view of the high positivity rate on the islands.
An order issued by the collector S. Asker Ali said shops and establishments selling groceries, vegetables and other essential commodities would be allowed to open between 1 p. m. and 4 p. m. with prior permission from district collector Kavaratti and deputy collector/block development officers, authorised officer for Androth, Kalpeni, Amini, Minicoy and Bitra islands. The shops and establishments will open in keeping with the COVID 19 protocol, said the order.
Mr Ali said the COVID 19 situation had not yet stabilised. There are 1,005 active cases — 484 on Kavaratti; 16 on Agatti; 51 on Amini; 14 on Kadmat; 21 on Kiltan, 14 on Chetlat; 188 on Androth; 24 on Kalpeni; 123 on Minicoy and 70 on Bitra.
The test positivity rate on the Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Androth, Amini, Minicoy and Bitra is high when compared to other islands and there is high risk of the virus spreading further in the islands, the order said.
A corona curfew is already in place on all the islands and the lockdown is expected to be an effective containment strategy adopted by the island administration, the order said.
Hotels and restaurants would be allowed to function from 7.30 a. m. to 9. 30 a. m.; 1 p. m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p. m. to 9 p. m. only for home delivery. All the staff and delivery persons have to be tested for COVID 19 and take prior permission. Fishermen and meat sellers can sell their products between 3 p. m. and 5 p. m. only. They too have to be tested for COVID 19, the order added.